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November 4, 2011

OpSail 2012 Virginia ™ Announces Affiliate Cities and
First 14 Tall Ships and War Ships for Next Summer’s Event
International fleet heading to the Port of Virginia to commemorate Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner
Norfolk, VA. (November 3, 2011) – OpSail 2012 Virginia™ officials have confirmed the official 2012 Affiliate OpSail 2012 Virginia™ cities and the names of the first international tall ships and naval ships that will sail in the OpSail 2012 Virginia ™ commemorations next June 1-12, 2012.
The event is being produced jointly with the U.S. Navy with support from the US Coast Guard and other US Sea Services.
Tall ships from Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, Spain, and the United States, and naval ships from Canada, Denmark, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, are the first confirmed participants in the multi-port commemoration which begins in April 2012 in New Orleans. Other cities involved in this national commemoration include Puerto Rico, New York, Baltimore, Boston and New London.
Local organizers estimate that up to two dozen tall ships representing national maritime academies from around the world will come to the Port of Virginia next June.  Additional confirmations are expected over the next two months. 
The first 14 ships to indicate their participation include some of the world’s largest tall ships:
• USCG Barque EAGLE was built for the Germany Navy in 1936 as the HORST WESSEL. EAGLE was part of the war reparations paid to the United States following World War II.  Her homeport is New London, CT, where she sails as the US Coast Guard Academy’s training vessel.
• GODSPEED is a replica of one of the three ships that brought colonists to Virginia in 1607. GODSPEED was built in Rockport, ME in 2005.  Jamestown, VA was the first permanent English settlement in America.
• GLORIA is the 249 foot long tall ship from Colombia that sails with midshipmen from the Colombian Navy. The ship is home-ported in Cartegena and represents Colombia at maritime festivals around the world.
• JUAN SEBASTIAN DE ELCANO is named after one of Ferdinand Magellan’s captains. JUAN SEBASTIAN DE ELCANO sails as the training ship for the Spanish Navy.  She was built in 1927 and has sailed around the world six times during her career.
• CISNE BRANCO, meaning “White Swan”, is the training vessel for officers and cadets from the Brazilian Navy and Merchant Marine Academy.  She was commissioned on March 9, 2000 and represents Brazil in maritime events around the world.
• GUAYAS was built in Bilbao, Spain in 1976.  She sails for the Ecuadorian Naval Academy, teaching practical seamanship and navigation skills to naval cadets.
• CUAUHTÉMOC serves Mexico as the training vessel for the Mexican Navy, a role she has fulfilled for more than twenty years.  She participates in worldwide tall ship events while teaching the essential elements of seamanship and navigation, taking more than one hundred cadets to sea for each of its cruises.
• HDMS ABSOLON, the 451-foot naval frigate of Denmark, is built to support command and control, anti-air or submarine, amphibious, medical, disaster aid, or sealift missions.  She was commissioned in 2005 and has served NATO in its efforts to reduce piracy threats along the Horn.
• RFA ARGUS, the 574-foot, an Aviation Training and Primary Casualty Receiving Naval Ship of the United Kingdom, was built as a roll-on, roll-off container ship and converted for use in the Royal Navy in 1984.  12 Harrier jump jets can operate off of her deck.  She served in the Falklands War and as a Primary Casualty Recovery Ship during the First Persian Gulf War.
• HMS TALENT, the 280 foot Fast Attack Submarine of the United Kingdom, is a Trafalgar class submarine, the sixth built for the Royal Navy.  She was commissioned in May, 1990 and is equipped with one of world’s most advanced sonar systems.  (She will be berthed at the Norfolk Naval Base and not downtown Norfolk.)
• HMCS GOOSE BAY, a 182 foot KINGSTON class Coastal Defense Vessel, commissioned in 1998 and home-ported with Canada’s Atlantic fleet in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
• HMCS MONCTON, a182 foot KINGSTON class Coastal Defense Vessel, commissioned in 1998 and home-ported with Canada’s Atlantic fleet in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
• FGS HESSEN, the 469 foot naval frigate from Germany, is Germany’s newest Sachsen class air defense frigate, commissioned on April 26, 2006. She carries the latest in radar and missile defenses and two NH90 helicopters can operate from her small flight deck.
• HNOMS THOR HEYERDAHL, the 440 foot frigate from Norway, is named after a famous Norwegian arctic explorer.  This class of frigate forms the backbone of the Norwegian Navy and is extensively equipped for anti-submarine and air defense duties.
A fleet of character vessels from the United States will also join the international fleet and will be berthed in many of the affiliate cities. 
Official OpSail 2012 Virginia™ cities and communities include Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Hampton, Yorktown, and for the first time participating in an OpSail Virginia event, the Virginia Eastern Shore communities of Cape Charles, Onancock and Tangier Island.
The 12 day June event, spanning 2 weekends and including at least 9 Virginia cities, will include 3 parades of sail, public ship visitations, festivals and special events, fireworks, international athletic competitions, and more soon to be announced.  Visit for the full schedule of events confirmed to date. 
 “Bringing an event of this magnitude to Virginia is providing exceptional opportunities for our communities and businesses to participate and benefit in many tangible ways”, said Karen Scherberger, CEO of Norfolk Festevents, the managing organization for OpSail 2012 Virginia™.  “The response from the Hampton Roads and Chesapeake Bay region has been tremendous, and the affiliate cities are organizing wonderful programs for their communities”, she adds, “the spirit of cooperation has been outstanding and in many ways unprecedented!”  
All of the ships will be open for public visitation free of charge, and residents and visitors will have the opportunity of interacting with talented young sailors from around the world.
The local OpSail 2012 Virginia™ project is sanctioned by OpSail®, Inc., the congressionally chartered non-profit producer of tall ship events.  OpSail, Inc. has staged five previous American milestone events such as the 1964 World’s Fair, the 1976 bicentennial of American independence, the 1986 State of Liberty centennial, the 1992 Columbus Quincentennial, and the Millennium in 2000.
The official 2012 national schedule includes the following ports:
• New Orleans, Louisiana, April 17-23, 2012
• San Juan, Puerto Rico (Tall Ships only), May 9-14, 2012
• New York, New York, May 23-30 (Fleet Week), 2012
• Port of Virginia, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Hampton, Yorktown, Virginia Eastern Shore, June 1-12, 2012
• Baltimore / Annapolis, Maryland, June 13-19, 2012
• Boston, Massachusetts, June 30-July 6, 2012
• New London, Connecticut (Tall Ships only), July 6-9, 2012
For more information, visit, or call 757 441-2345.
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